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Growing stock foodstuffs

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We raise a variety of animals for meat: goats, sheep, pigs, a cow (our first)rabbits and poultry. We pasture feed as much as possible, but have to supplement because we are still building up this very neglected land. This fall we plan on seeding with a pasture mix that will work for the hoof stock.


I have heard that I can grow stock beets and feed corn for my livestock. What I have not been able to find is how to process them. I think that I can order seed through the local feed store, but do not want to waste resources in my ignorance.


Can someone point me in the direction of a link or text that can tell me how to properly plant, when to harvest and more importantly, how to process these things for my livestock?


Thank you in advance for your help!


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  • 2 weeks later...

Laura, I don't know the answer to your question, but I sure wish I did. I have been trying to find out info on growing food for our animals as well. Please share what you have found on stock beets. Specifically, where do you buy the seeds, and how do you know how much you will need. Regards, Peg

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I think Cowgirl grows stock beets. I THINK. You might try posting a question in the 'Country Homesteading' forum down below. She (Cowgirl) is a wealth of info on amimals and their care and feeding.

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Thanks for the tip, Jeepers...I'll try reposting or PMing Cowgirl.


As for what I have found out so far regarding stock beets...


They really great thing about feeding stock beets (aka mangles) is that you don't have to process them at all. All that steaming and extracting nonsense is only if you plan to get the usable sugar out of them. If just being used for livestock, it is a dual purpose food. You can cut the tops and feed them as the tuber grows. Then when the tuber is full size (as much as 20 lbs in the old varieties) you can pull it and cut into manageable sizes and feed it.


Anything remaining, will undoubtedly become pig toys as I run the pigs in the middle pasture in the "off season". Sort of a 4 legged rototiller...


As for seeds: I was referred to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Nichols Garden Nursery. Both of them are online. I read somewhere that I can plant them in September, so I have not gone further in that direction yet.


What I liked about this thus far is that it is two crops: the top and the tuber.

What remains to be answered: how much to plan on per pound of livestock on the hoof. No one wants to give me a number (ie, pounds per acre or something...ANYthing...)


Perhaps Cowgirl has more practical information. If I get more, I'll add it to this post.

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  • 4 weeks later...


I'm new, but this is something I am also interested in. I did find some things on the internet when I can play (usually between 3 & 5 in the morning,no I don't sleep, I'll sleep plenty when I die) ;), But I know that for pigs, I give them tons of scraps from the garden, and when I can, eggs from our chickens and a few quarts of day old milk I get from the goats. That diet is more geared for the baby pigs as they need all the nutrients as they are still growing. Someone has told me that they feed them nothing but corn 2 weeks before they slaughter as this cleans them out. This was the way the old farmers used to do it. The bigger pigs get a lot of bread, veggie scraps and eggs and human leftovers. I figure the bigger ones will be in my freezer come November ( as it gets cold then here) so I can butcher. When the garden has died out and I am done putting up for the season I let them go hog wild out there ane tear it up. (Good soil additions as well as getting rid of the plant matter. I am still interested in other ways though, as this is my regimine for spring to slaughter, but I don't have anything for winter until the garden grows. I have to then buy the packaged stuff which is killing us in costs.

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Wow...those are some slicers, Ambergris!


I hear you, Bealadybug, when you say that the cost of sack feed is horrific. Between the rising cost of grains, and then the delivery...I can only imagine that this winter will be worse than last.


We don't milk anything, so that's not an option for us. We do have garden leavings and vege scraps; bread and such, too, if it goes too stale for me to find a use for it. Eggs are available only if I have excess...but lately my egg customers have been snapping them up in large numbers. Leasmom posted a link re:growing a chicken garden, and between that and the info on mangles is how we came up with the idea of growing animal gardens in addition to the people garden and feed through rotations.


Being fairly new here, too, there is a wealth of information in these posts. I find myself doing a lot of reading and not so much connecting with people...but I'm getting better...really I am...



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The only downside Laura, is that on the east coast (Maryland), Mangels I think should be going in the ground very soon if not already as winter hits around the end of October. I have had a hard time finding seeds that I could plant about an acre of these things. I think this year we are going to just plant winter wheat. I just started getting the hang of crop rotation with the things that we currently plant, now my DH has thrown something else in the loop. We aren't done with the permanent pig house yet and today I spent all day fencing in the new pen for them and rustling them over there. By the way, how do you wrestle a 200+ pound pig about 50 yards. I know that doesn't sound far, but I did the young ones today (about 100lbs) and I learned that you shouldn't tie the end of the rope to your waist. Just kidding, I was able to drag them around pretty good. I fear though if I try the same thing with the bigger pigs I will be drug all over the place. While that would place in America's Funniest Videos, I would prefer not to break something in the process. Sorry about the rambling...

PS If you don't have access to milk yourself, you may be able to find someone that has an abundance or could contact a dairy, who knows sometimes we just ask at the right moment.

Hope to talk at you soon,


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A thought about moving pigs. Pigs are notorious for not going in the direction you want to herd them. Believe it or not, they are extremely intellegent.


The old timers used a bucket or a basket with food in it, they let the pig get their head in the feed and then BACK them where they want to go with their heads still IN the basket. The pig will tend to want to push against you so you have to hang on tight to the container.


I have used this method and it does work a lot of the time but I find in our situation, where we raise only a couple or three pigs at at time for butcher or at the most a bred sow, getting them used to coming to us for food is the key. We haven't had to chase a pig for years because of that. We find that if we have to move them from place to place in the open though they will scatter. They are extremely nosey too. We usually just string temporary fencing between the two areas and then lead them with food. We can usually evem load them for butchering by going out with their food, calling to them and then putting the food on the trailer. Sometimes getting one OFF when it's not needed there can be a problem but they are truly easier to load this way than cows are.


Another method of getting them loaded, most animals in fact, is to start feeding them in the trailer/cage you want them to ultimately go into. It works.


As for mangles, I've grown them for years though haven't lately. We didn't get them in this year but will next. I find that not all animals of any given species will eat them without sneaking them into their food slowly. If I feed them to an animal that hasn't had them before I first put a few small slices or cubes into their feed. I do this for a week or so and if they are leaveing them after that I grate them small and put them in that way. If I persist I can usually get them to take them.


We feed carrots, turnips, rutabags, pumpkins, squash, and regular beets too the same way. They all store well. I am cautious what I feed to milk animals as the strong roots can flavor the milk. Cows, pigs and sheep will eat a surprising variety of foods given the chance. I have found goats much pickier though despite what people think.


Rabbits will eat many of the above foods also as well as harvested weeds, grass and hay along with fresh kitchen scraps and peelings.


When thinking of feeding animals, think Pioneers.



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Thank you so much Mother for the info. I will keep in mind that it is pretty easy to feed the animals. I think society has made it so that we feel dependant on them for stuff. Whether it is food or clothing or shelter. I try not to fall into the trap. But I also want to be safe and not make the animals sick. Thanks for the advice.


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I too am finding it hard to find seed. I am on a quest, though, and will go to plan B if I can't get plan A in place...

Luckily for us, we don't have milk animals, but I have heard that what they eat affects the milks flavor. It seems like it should -- we finish our hogs off on sweet grain in order to sweeten the meat. As for moving hogs -- we have done a variety of the methods referenced. Our best luck stems from two principals: a pig will go in the direction of his/her head. Point the head in the right direction and you are half way home. And the second principal: they'll do almost anything for food. For a while we had 3 pigs that would "dance" like a chorus line, if I would swing the feed bucket. Even if the bucket was empty! It was so funny...seriously, if push comes to shove, home made battle boards help to direct a pig, too. That's a trick we learned from 4H.





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How long do you finish your hogs off for. I was told two weeks on concrete with corn. Can you give me some help with this. Also is there a way that I can tell if our male got a female pregnant without wacthing them all day?? I saw him do the deed, but is there something that I should be looking for on the female. Someone told me that they have a secretion of sorts around that area.... I don't know. do you mind helping me out.

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Concrete? As in cement? Serious? How on earth do you get them to eat that?


We finish by introducing sweet COB* to their feed and over the course of 30 days, gradually increase until it is what they finish on completely for about one to two weeks. *COB (corn, oats, barley) with molasses -- the molasses is the key.


As for pregnant or not: we don't breed our own. Not enough room at our place. So we buy feeder pigs. How long has it been since "the deed" was done? They are only pregnant for 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. Pigs can cycle all year, so if he didn't finish the task that time, there is always the next time.


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I didn't mean that I fed the pigs the concrete? Good grief lady, you are so silly. What I meant is to move them to a concrete padded area so that you can hose off where they are. To cut down on the Pooh eating and all. I heard that by them eating that makes the meat taste like pooh. It's only been a week since the "deed" was done. But I talked to an old farmer at church last night and he said that once he has done it and she gets pregnant, he won't mess with her. So I am looking for him to be disinterested. But who knows he's young so he might not ever be disinterested. LOL. wink But thanks for the tips on what you guys are feeding them.


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Ohhh!! ON cement! LOL...sorry! but I was confused...


Our pigs have a lot of room to free roam. They generally select an area as the bathroom and use it consistently. In fact, it tends to be a spot furthest away from where they eat and sleep. We have not had a problem with them eating their own fecal matter. And our pork tastes great.



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